Tag Archives: slivovice

Jews and Slivovitz- Kosher

Jews from Eastern Europe have adopted the slivovitz as their national alcoholic beverage. This factor, supported by huge Eastern European immigration in the 20th century, was crucial to spreading the voice of fruit spirits around the world. Without them plum brandy would be confined to its local boundaries.

plum brandy

The unfortunate people of the Old Testament , making God sad and angry with them,  was often persecuted in its history. They found refuge in Europe, Asia and Russia, and later in the New World. In a new homeland they were accepting local customs, food, drinks, jealously guarding their own from their homeland. As if they were trying to keep a link with their fatherland.

In Eastern Europe they found brandy fruits, usually plum brandy, famous Šljivovica for the Serbs , Croats, Slovenes , Montenegrins ; сливова ракия for Bulgarians ; Ţuică in Romania; pálinka for Hungarians ; slivovica the Slovaks ; slivovice the Czechs ; Śliwowica for Poles . From what we know today, the Jews quickly received plum brandy: they began distilling alcohol from fruit that was available to them. Of course, two centuries ago it was not so easy to buy fruit that does not grow in your area and to distill a beverage out of it . They were forced to make brandy. And they liked it, I suppose.

Thus, it is mentioned that Salamon Montiljo founded in Travnik one of the biggest plum brandy distilleries in the region. In Vojvodina, they were leasing the distilleries: it was noted that Moises and Flash from Selenca near Sombor were paying rent of 105 florins a year for the use of the distillery, Joseph Salmon 65 florins for the distillery in Deronje near Apatin and Jozef Hersl 170 forints in Kulpin. Jews quickly showed their sense of business that they had to develop under unfavorable conditions.

Emigration after World War I and World War II took them to America, Australia and Israel. The qoung generations were drinking slivovitz together with their fathers and they were spreading the word about it. Plum brandy, pear brandy , cherry brandy and other fruit brandies with their specific taste, odor and clarity were easily making their way to the non Jewish consumers.

Today they consider it a Kosher beverage and this means they adopted it as their own drink. This is our another link to them.

I wonder if they drink it in Israel today?

Brandy and Rakija – anything in common?

Ever heard of rakija or rakia? Or arak? Or grappa? Or mastika? Or slivovitz? Or brandy?


Some say rakia is derived from Arabic araq or arak, meaning wine. It was used in the Middle East for all sorts of spirits destilled from grapes and wine. Turkish conquering of the Balkans brought new meanings: all spirits with high percentage of alcohol were named rakia. Or rakija in Slavic version.

Since Balkan peninsula is rich in aromatic fruit, probably most aromatic in the whole world, rakia became a common name for spirit distilled from fruit. So, grappa is a kind of brandy distilled from grape, mostly appreciated in Croatia – Dalmatia and Italy. Slivovitz or slivovice or slivovica or sljivovica is brandy distilled from plum (common Slavonic name, sljiva = plum)  and it is appreciated and praised mostly in Slavic countries.

Why do we call it brandy in English version nowadays? They have very few similarities. If it is a bit sweet and yellow, it can be very similar to brandy. Tawny yellow color is granted to fruit brandy by its oak barrel: if the brandy is aged in a barrel for at least couple of months, it becomes smooth and harmonized.

The kind of a brandy on the picture was aged in barrique barrels and is probably most similar to  brandy in its common meaning.